Highland Fling – Part 13 (and the last)

February has been a perfectly charming house guest so far. Blossoms are exploding on the mimosa trees, sunshine is beaming the chill into compliance, and our thoughts have turned to summer vacation. There is talk of Belgium, but I’m hoping the other possibility of Portugal wins out. I would love to camp our way through French countrysides and Spanish vineyards, maybe take a ferry to the Azores… or not. Now that I’m looking at the map, I see that the Azores are practically halfway across the Atlantic. It was a nice daydream though. At any rate, this line of thinking keeps snagging on something at the back of my brain… something about our epic camping habit… something I’ve forgotten to finish…

Oh. Oh dear. Seven whole months have passed since our trip to Scotland, and I have somehow neglected to post the last installment of my related letter to the girls. Seven months are an embarrassing amount of time to wrap up a vacation, no matter how many adventures it entailed, and I am appropriately sheepish. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me… and possibly even to keep reading. (Even though I’ve done my very best to ensure that none of you will remember what happened up to this point. Egad.)


(Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12)

Early the next afternoon, we rolled into Munich and the waiting hospitality of our dear friends the G’s. Your dad, the car, and I exhaled a collective sigh of gratefulness that we didn’t need to unload the camping gear; for our last night of the trip, we could luxuriate in home-cooked meals and mattresses, not to mention wonderful company. Don’t be fooled though into thinking this meant we spent the afternoon sinking our toes in the carpet and marveling at our proximity to indoor plumbing. That’s just not our style. Instead, we outsmarted both the heat and Germany’s lack of beaches by spending the afternoon at a local creek sinking our toes in the sand and marveling at how far our water cannons could shoot. You, Sophie, weren’t as keen as the rest of us about the creek… and once I slipped into its knee-deep silt, I could certainly sympathize. (Shudder259103738992.) However, you happily used the hours to collaborate on sand soup recipes with your friend Noah, and I’d venture to guess we all got our fill of pure, slimy fun.

Natalie fires backThe inconvenient thing about shooting water straight up in the air is that it insists on coming straight back down. Of course, that might have been the whole point…

With an indefinable mix of reluctance and glee, we set out the next morning for the last leg of our trip home. To say the drive was noisy would be putting things mildly. You two put on spectacular performances of ‘80s hits (“I’m walking on sunshine, WHOOOOOO-OOOOOOOOAAAAAHHHHHH!”) using your German sausages as microphones and your vocal cords as battering rams. Your dad and I were three-quarters deaf by the time we made it through the Dolomites, but eardrums are overrated anyway… especially when it come to surviving a 51-hour road trip.

Opera singers in the back seat“…don’t it feel GOOOOD!!!!!!!!!”

And survive we most definitely did. I suspect it’s something of a miracle that we all still liked each other at the end of so much concentrated togetherness, but I guess that’s what fighting off hostile farm animals does to a family. (That and blueberry muffins.)  I can’t emphasize enough what rock stars you girls were about our whole crazy undertaking. It would be asking a lot from mature adults (which your parents are not) to expect them to speed-camp across Europe with a fraction of your cheerful adaptability.  You girls weren’t just tagalongs on the trip; you were participants, and you colored each new experience with a shade of delight uniquely your own. True, some of that delight seemed a little like being skinned alive with a pair of rusty nail clippers (*cough*climbingHolyroodHill*cough*), but I will forever be grateful that I got to share these adventures with you… theatrics and all.

Extracting giggles from a tired Sophie




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  1. Nothing is better than a concert of 80’s hits. I love it when my kids sing in the car. It just makes me happy. As for your adventures, well. You had more on this vacation than I probably have had in my whole life. Crazy cows and all…

    Thanks for sharing it with all of us. It is probably the only time I will get to camp my way through Europe!

  2. Those photos are just PRICELESS!

  3. Meg – At least until this summer when we’ll doubtless do it again!

    Liz – Thanks! They are to us, but we are fairly biased. 🙂

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